I took nothing with me but the track suit I wore and my shoes for running. And, of course, a book of tickets. I was prepared to go and eager to leave, in fact, I was in the process of leaving when one of the trainers tapped me on the shoulder.
"Are you ready?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm ready."
"And you are sure you know what to do?"
"Why, of course, I'm sure. After all I once met a runner who led me here. Why wouldn't I know?"
"I just want to be sure you've had the proper training. So few ever receive it. So few ever really care."
"Well you don't have to worry about me. I know what to do. I'm a runner now. Worry about them, the participants and spectators. Turn them into runners."
"I do worry about them. Every day I talk to the coach about them. There are so many who enter the stadium and so few who ever leave. Why, the stadium is so full. So full with those who have received the gift, who have received the call to run and yet refuse to do so. Yes, I'm concerned about that. Very concerned."
"But what can be done? What can be done to make them run?"
"Nothing can make them run. They must want to run as you want to run."
"And what of the coach, can he make them run?"
"No, even he won't make them run. They must run on their own. They are supposed to run, all of them. But they must want to run. They must want to."
"The coach, wasn't he a runner?" I asked.
"Yes, he was a runner. The best runner. The very first runner. He ran where no one else ever ran. He ran when there was no thought of running. When the world hated runners, he still ran. When they rose up against him he refused to quit running. He refused to stop.
"Even when the world tried to stop him from running, he kept on and on. He is the runner of all runners. The pioneer. Why, he made the course, blazed the trail. He is the one who formed the narrow way. There are no obstacles that he has not faced, no problem he did not solve, no force he did not move, no instance that he did not foresee. He has done it all. And he finished the course.
"He finished it as no man could ever finish it. Yes, he was a runner. The greatest runner. And he ran that you might run. He finished the course that you might finish it. He did it all and all you must do is follow his leading.
"Remember, he was there before you. Nothing you encounter will be new. He has already had the victory in it or over it. Remember that and your running will not be in vain. You will make it because he made it. You will make it for his spirit, the Spirit of the Great Runner, goes with you. In his strength you can do it. Remember, in his strength you can finish."
"I'll remember. I'll always remember." "Then go, go and run. Run the race that is before you. Run and never forget."
And so I ran. I turned and ran out of the great stadium, out of the Great Meet. I ran towards the Mountains of Duty and the World of Need.